The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning

The New York Times Magazine has the first interview and profile of Chelsea Manning after her release from prison after seven years: “When I asked her to draw lessons from her journey, she grew uneasy. ‘I don’t have. … ‘ she started. ‘Like, I’ve been so busy trying to survive for the past seven years that I haven’t focused on that at all.'”

Published: Jun 12, 2017
Length: 38 minutes (9,500 words)

The Holocaust’s Great Escape

A remarkable discovery in Lithuania — an escape tunnel from the Nazi killing site at Ponar — brings a legendary tale of survival back to life.

Source: Smithsonian
Published: Mar 1, 2017
Length: 19 minutes (4,827 words)

M.I.A.

In 1968, an American soldier named John Hartley Robertson disappeared in the jungles of Laos after his helicopter was shot down. His body was never found—until 2008, when a Christian missionary discovered a man in Vietnam who claimed to be Robertson.

Source: The Atavist
Published: Jan 26, 2017
Length: 36 minutes (9,200 words)

The False Promise of DNA Testing

DNA typing has long been used as irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence in the criminal-justice system, but errors made in crime labs have many questioning its effectiveness.

Source: The Atlantic
Published: May 17, 2016
Length: 25 minutes (6,401 words)

Whatsoever Things Are True

A Chicago man is convicted and sentenced to death for a double murder that occurred in 1982. Years later, a journalism school teacher and his students work to free him, and in 1999 another man confesses to the crime, but later recants. Shaer walks us through a very complex story of how a broken system failed for decades to render justice in a 33-year-old crime.

Source: The Atavist
Published: Sep 8, 2015
Length: 61 minutes (15,311 words)

Sun and Shadows

How Seychelles—a tiny island nation a thousand miles from anywhere—became an offshore magnet for money launderers and tax dodgers.

Published: Jun 9, 2014
Length: 24 minutes (6,000 words)

Why Abercrombie Is Losing Its Shirt

In the early ’90s, Mike Jeffries gave struggling retailer Abercrombie and Fitch new life by selling a specific kind of lifestyle to teenage shoppers who “wanted to belong.” Times have changed, and the retailer needs to as well:

Until relatively recently, Abercrombie’s numerous press scandals followed a predictable pattern: a flood of petitions and angry phone calls; an army of talking heads on cable TV complaining about the pernicious influence of the brand; and then silence. Consumers seemed to accept that Abercrombie’s gleefully offensive vibe was part of the package, and the company’s bottom line was never truly threatened.

But sensibilities have since evolved; casual prejudice is not as readily tolerated. Today’s teens are no longer interested in “the elite, cool-kid thing” to the extent that they once were, says Gordon, the Michigan professor. “This generation is about inclusiveness and valuing diversity. It’s about not looking down on people.” And with the help of social media, for the first time critics have succeeded in putting Abercrombie on the defensive. Last year, blogger Jes Baker drew blood with her spoof photo series “Attractive & Fat,” which satirized the iconic Bruce Weber images. A video of activist Greg Karber distributing Abercrombie clothing to homeless people has been viewed upwards of 8 million times on YouTube.

Published: Feb 9, 2014
Length: 16 minutes (4,213 words)

Syria’s News Smugglers

Who’s really covering Syria—and who’s funding them? Shaer meets the citizen journalists and upstart news organizations reporting on the civil war, and raises questions about what’s motivating their work:

"One of the reporters changed the channel on a nearby television to CNN. ‘Every Western media organization had an agenda,’ said Mohammed. ‘CNN is always talking about ISIS, Al Nusra, Islamists, Al Qaeda. But they never talk about humanitarian aid.’

“Earlier, when I had asked Mohammed what he wished to see in Syria, he had answered quickly: ‘A modern Islamic state.’ But when I pointed out that Nashet also had an agenda, the room grew hushed and tense. ‘CIA,’ a reporter sitting behind me whispered accusingly. Sami motioned me to leave. Outside, he remarked, ‘You can’t have that kind of place if you don’t have a backer with a big agenda.’”

Published: Oct 21, 2013
Length: 15 minutes (3,892 words)

A Monster Among the ‘Frum’

[Not single-page] Levi Aron remained single for the bulk of his twenties, a sign that he was considered by both his family and the neighborhood shadken to be of lesser stock. For companionship, he turned to a group of like-minded Jews, most of them also single men. They called themselves rebels, one friend remembers. They raged against the strictures of the frum, or pious, world and gathered at restaurants and bars around South Brooklyn—their go-to spot was a dimly lit kosher Japanese steakhouse called Fuji Hana. Aron could be a hard person to talk to, by turns aggressively chatty or heavy-­lidded and silent. “His head would just drop down and his face would go blank,” one former friend remembers. “We’d ask him if he was okay, and he’d lean over and show us the scar from the bike accident.” He seemed to have trouble “distinguishing emotional distance,” one acquaintance said. “He could tell you if he knew someone, but he couldn’t tell you who’s a friend, who’s just some guy he barely knows.”

Published: Dec 4, 2011
Length: 27 minutes (6,908 words)